What would you do, elaborated

Jim Romenesko got enough comments about my “What would you do?” post that he collected some of them and posted that today. (Thank you, Jim, for the traffic and inspired discussion.)

The comments at Jim’s and on my original post reveal more anger than I anticipated, but I wasn’t sure how to respond without seeming defensive or out of touch. (I’m neither, really.)

I don’t think it is any mystery why newspaper staffers aren’t reading the paper or using the paper’s website. The mystery is why so many publishers and editors aren’t acting quickly and forcefully to go to where the people are. Newspapers employ many smart, savvy people. The journalists on staff are used to speaking truth to power. Perhaps they have some helpful suggestions if asked.

I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer with the original post.

Fortunately, Matt DeRienzo, group editor at Journal Register publications in Connecticut and a leader in moving print to digital, further analyzed the comments for me:

After seeing the comments here and on Romenesko’s Facebook page, I think there is confusion here between two separate issues:

– Employee apathy toward or disengagement from the journalism you’re doing.

– Institutional ignorance of the sea change in consumer behavior, including the consumers in your own building.

I sent this post out to my newsroom staff in Connecticut, and got a lot of replies thinking I was scolding them for not being a print subscriber or buying newspaper classified ads (answer  to both – they can’t afford it and web and Craig’s List are free). My point in sending, of course, was that we need to get over denial of disruption in these areas and trust our own instincts as consumers to guide a both-feet jump into “digital first.”

 

4 thoughts on “What would you do, elaborated

  1. For what it’s worth, John, television station employees — including those in the newsroom — rarely watch their newscasts either. Probing produces responses similar to yours and provide front row evidence that there’s little relevance in what we do.

    • Thanks, Terry. The issue of relevance in the journalist produced today is huge. I wish I had been more aware of it — or wasn’t so blind to it — when I was in charge. But hope springs eternal that some leader will act more decisively than I did.

  2. I’ve worked at the same newspaper for 16 years. There was a time I read the entire thing, from main to classified. I really enjoyed my job, loved my coworkers – even my boss – and felt a sense of pride in not only what I did, but in the paper as a whole.

    Now? I subscribe because I feel obligated too. Each morning I pick it up off my porch and dump it straight in the trash. I know our journalists are awesome. But, I’m burned out. And I’ve lost that feeling of pride that I once had. I’m doing three people’s jobs and when I start waving my arms for help because I’m drowning, I’m just looked at as a naysayer and a bad team player. :(

    • I don’t think companies spend enough time and effort on articulating the overall vision to every employee. (Maybe in some cases it’s because there is no overall vision other than cut more expenses and “do more with less” to cover the drop in ad revenue.)

      And I don’t think we do enough to address issues of burnout and quality of life among employees, including managers. Every day we make decisions about what not to cover and what not to do – we always have. Making sure employees are in the loop and aren’t killing themselves seems like a good focus area, especially after three or four years of no pay raises.

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